BioPharma

Biotech, meet service provider. This startup strives to streamline the process of outsourcing

The “virtual” business models that have become common in many biotech startups may allow companies to operate with less capital, but they also present their own set of challenges. One of those is finding quality vendors to conduct research and development, clinical trials and other services, and managing those relationships. “There’s high turnover in the […]

The “virtual” business models that have become common in many biotech startups may allow companies to operate with less capital, but they also present their own set of challenges.

One of those is finding quality vendors to conduct research and development, clinical trials and other services, and managing those relationships.

“There’s high turnover in the vendor market, there’s high fragmentation in the vendor market, and there’s a lot of paperwork that goes into protecting your assets any time you’re doing something for life science,” said Cliff Culver, founder of a health IT startup aimed at making the process of outsourcing services less cumbersome.

Culver, who was previously working for a publicly traded healthcare consulting company on healthcare IT initiatives, joined up with a few former Pfizer executives in late 2011 to form the online platform OnDeckBiotech. It’s got two components for biotech companies to use: a directory of service providers (CROs, CMOs, consultants, etc.) and a set of administrative tools to manage both new and existing relationships.

On the platform, vendors maintain a free company profile that includes an overview of services, background documents and client testimonials. Biotechs that use the platform can search for services, communicate with vendors and compare proposals. Service providers pay a fee if and when they receive new business.

OnDeckBiotech launched in beta in February of last year. According to Culver, the company has now assembled a network of a few hundred vendors, a couple of VC-backed biotechs and a large pharmaceutical company using the platform.

It’s also recently partnered with trade organization MassBio to create a version of the platform that contains MassBio member vendors. “One interesting thing is that a lot of the startups in this space are actually service providers, but they’re very small and don’t necessarily have a way to get out there,” he said.

Culver said the next steps for the Boston-based company are finalizing more of those kinds of partnerships, which will likely include a national-scale rollout of the platform.

[Photo Credit: freedigitalphotos user sheelamohan]